by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
As the members of the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners and Clerk Caroline Wilson continue their search for common ground, the board voted Wednesday, Aug. 15 to forward to its Thursday meeting for final approval an item allowing Wilson to create a part-time elections clerk position in her office for the remainder of 2017. The position would be allotted 28 hours per week with a salary range of $24,774 to $30,309.
The board is hoping the additional hours provided will allow Wilson to reinstate the vital records office hours, which she cut as of July 31 after the board voted on June 15 to transfer two employees from the clerk’s office to the county office of financial administration. It was pointed out by the board that, although two clerks were transferred, the workload equivalent to that of three clerks was transferred as well.
After Chairman Jeremy Root explained during a July board meeting that the clerk’s office budget could not accommodate any additional staff, on Wednesday he implored Wilson to compromise. He noted that he had personally intervened to procure training for the clerk’s office, and he expressed his displeasure with the board being portrayed as the “villains and the bad guys.”
“I think some of the other commissioners would be more apt to revisit this in the future if there was cooperation from both sides,” Root said. We’ve reached out, we’ve tried training; it didn’t work out, I’m sorry. For you to just say, ‘I’m not willing to try this, I’m not going to make this work,’ and demanding another employee before you even attempt the process, that just isn’t right.”
He would go on to ask Wilson if she would “just try the process instead of fighting it nonstop.” Commissioner Brandon Marks, though he voted in favor of the additional staff member, stated that he wanted it noted that he was protesting the vote, saying it goes against the county’s hiring freeze that was instituted on Dec. 15, 2016. Wilson has cited the vast elections responsibilities of the clerk’s office and her learning curve as a first-year clerk as reasons additional employees are needed, as well as historical precedent.